Wednesday, February 09, 2011

L’Illusionist (The Illusionist)

With incredible animation beautifully shot and almost wordless Sylvain Chomet latest film is a bit different to previous The Triplets of Belleville as story seems like from another time and what happens may frustrate some but learning that story was based on an unproduced screenplay by mime, director and actor Jacques Tati completely changed the story in my mind, after all is set in anothertime when relationships were very different to what they are nowadays.

Story tells about Tatischeff an illusionist that travels to Scotland hoping to find better fortune. There he meets a young servant woman that’s fascinated with him and helps him beyond her duties. To thank her Tatischeff buys her a new pair of shoes that detonates on her more fascination up to the point that when he leaves she goes with him. As they arrive in Edinburgh their story evolves showing how for her he’s a father figure and how he fails his role. Basically shows that life is hard, relationships are complicated, friendship and life roles come and go, and most of all, magic is fleeting.

There is an old controversy around the origins/motivation of Tati’s story with some, like Sony Pictures, promoting story as a “love letter to her daughter”; while others believe is about his failings as a father and some argue about which daughter, the eldest or the other. To me and according to what I saw in the screen seems that the second could be more close to Tati’s intention. Still, and more important, to me film looks and feels more like Chomet’s homage to Tati than a director vision of a Tati’s story as seems like if Chomet is literally telling story -as probably was written- which for today’s audiences, including me, that’s not enough as we needed Chomet artistry to convert story worth of such magnificent animation.

In my mind I did made comparisons and definitively The Triplets of Belleville had a better story that was more dynamic, entertaining and totally complemented the awesome animation; The Illusionist in my opinion fails with the story but not with the animation, still the result is more bucolic than entertaining.

But can’t help but recommend this film to many that read this blog as definitively has beautiful animation, is based on Tati’s oeuvre and well, maybe could be taken as good nostalgia trip.


Watch trailer @MOC

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